With so much on the horizon in the Garden City business scene, there's a lot to talk about. That is one reason the Garden City Chamber of Commerce has created four new awards for this year's chamber banquet, to recognize all the great things that are going on in Garden City and generate a little buzz in the business community.
The new awards are:
* Small Business of the Year — for a company that employs from 1 to 20, and has been in business five or more years
* Business of the Year — for a company that employs more than 20 employes (or equivalent FTEs) and has been in business five or more years
* Emerging Business of the year — for a company employing five or more, and in business from one to four years
* Nonprofit of the year — for a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 or 501 (c ) 6 that has made an extraordinary contribution to the chamber and Finney County at large
Nominations are welcome from chamber members and their employees. The nominated business should be a chamber member, too.
Forms are available online at http://www.gardencitychamber.net/ and must be faxed to 276-3290 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. Feb. 21.
Award winners will be notified prior to the banquet so that a video highlighting each winning business may be prepared for the event.
The annual Ambassador of the Year award and the Award of Merit, the latter of which has been a 30-year tradition in Garden City, will be presented, as well.
"That's almost like a lifetime achievement award," Steve Dyer, chamber president, said. "It is more of an individual award, though, so we thought, 'why not give out some awards to recognize some of the great businesses in the area?'"
The awards will be presented at the upcoming banquet, which begins at 5 p.m. March 13 with a social, followed by dinner at 6 p.m. and keynote speaker, world-renowned speaker and New York Times bestselling author Tommy Spaulding. He will be sharing a game plan for developing genuine business relationships.
"I've heard him speak, and he is very, very good," Dyer said.
Tickets for the event are $50. To sponsor a table or purchase tickets, visit the chamber website or contact the chamber at 276-3264.
In addition to the awards program, the banquet is also a time to reflect on the chamber's activities and successes over the year, and look ahead to the next.
Among the highlights Dyer mentioned are a new website launched in the last three or four months and a new series of business seminars put on through community partners.
"We teamed up with the small business development center on the Affordable Care Act and brought in someone from SBA to speak on what businesses are going to be dealing with, what individuals are going to be dealing with, when it comes to the rollout of that legislation," Dyer said. "We partnered with St. Catherine Hospital, the college and the Small Business Development Center to put that on. It was a group effort."
An upcoming seminar, postponed due to the inclement weather, will be a program on marketing in the social media age.
The next in the series will be based on member feedback, Dyer said. Businesses with an idea for a topic are encouraged to send those ideas to him at email@example.com.
Another effort has been the re-establishment of the Cultural Business Taskforce, which looks at ways to help multicultural businesses thrive in Garden City, where there can sometimes be language or cultural barriers involved.
"So, this committee is focusing on how do we bridge that gap and help that business do everything they need to do to be successful," Dyer said.
Dyer added that the chamber is continuing to seek more representation from the various cultures in Garden City to serve as volunteers on chamber boards and committees.
"If you look at our demographics, we need to be a reflection of the community and be more involved in that."
As a business organization, funded not by tax money but by business contributions and membership fees, Dyer said the chamber will continue striving to be a strong voice for the business community.
Among activities supporting that goal, the chamber has planned a Legislative Coffee at 10 a.m. Saturday in the cafeteria of St. Catherine Hospital to discuss a legislative agenda formulated from the needs of Garden City's member businesses.
During the past year, the chamber also acted as a voice for the local business community on city ordinances that would affect businesses. There was, for example, a recent city ordinance pertaining to the sale of 3.2 percent beer.
"There was some confusion with the original ordinance that was presented to the city," Dyer said, "So we helped clear that up because it was going to be more stringent than the state laws. They don't really need to go above what the state laws are."
Presently, the chamber is putting on a forum for landlords and the city to discuss the possibility of implementing a rental inspection process. The forum is 10:30 a.m. Friday at 1511 E. Fulton Terrace and is open to the public.
"It seems like whenever there is a changeover, this is one of the topics that comes up," Dyer said. "There's a concern for public safety, and we definitely support having safe properties for people to live in."
However, with a couple thousand rental properties involved, there are some issues to consider in the implementation of any wide-scale inspection program.
"Do we charge $30 to inspect each property? And the office is closed on weekends, so would people have to wait until Monday? Time is a factor. We want to help people get in right away," Dyer said.
Right now inspections are self-policed, and Dyer says he hears that system seems to work pretty well. "If a call comes up, the inspection department goes out and tries to address the issue," Dyer said.